In its front-page review of Alternating Current, The New York Times Book Review called Octavio Paz “an intellectual literary one-man band” for his ability to write incisively and with dazzling originality about a wide range of subjects. This collection of his essays is divided into three parts. Part 1 sets forth his credo as an artist and poet, steeped in his knowledge of world literature and Mexican art and history and buttressed by readings of writers from Mexican poet Luis Cernuda to D. H. Lawrence, Malcolm Lowry, André Breton, and Carlos Fuentes. Part 2 deals with themes such as Western individualism versus plurality and flux in Eastern philosophy, atheism versus belief, nihilism, liberated man, and versions of paradise. In Part 3, Paz writes of politics and ethics in essays on revolt and revolution, existentialism, Marxism, the third world, and the new face of Latin America.
A scintillating thinker and a prescient voice on emerging world culture, Paz reveals himself here as “a man of electrical passions, paradoxical visions, alternating currents of thoughts, and feeling that runs hot but never cold” (Christian Science Monitor).